WEEKLY COLUMN by Stroud District Council leader Catherine Braun 

On Sunday, I attended the Holocaust Memorial Day event organised by Community Solidarity Stroud District, with speakers from the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities, beautiful music and many poignant reflections.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust was set up by the UK Government to promote such events and encourage remembrance, helping people to learn more, empathise more and do more to create a better future. The Trust has resources online for anyone who would like to take action to prevent identity-based persecution and discrimination today: www.hmd.org.uk/takeaction

All councils must work to eliminate discrimination, advance equal opportunities for all, and foster good relations between people in the community, and it’s a role that we take seriously. In February, we will be proudly celebrating LGBT History Month, to remember those who paved the way to equal rights in our country, and all the places across the world where LGBT people still face persecution.

On Thursday, February 1, councillors discussed proposals for new community investments across the district at the Strategy & Resources Committee.

Our draft budget sets out funding for market towns and a new fundraising platform for community groups.

We also plan further investment in play areas and leisure services.

Following discussions with Stroud Town Council and the Chamber of Trade, our budget proposals include a ‘Free after 2pm’ offer at the London Road and Brunel Mall car parks, and a further freeze on car parking charges for flexible-stay spaces in the town.

For Stroud railway station, we’ve earmarked funding to acquire land for pedestrian and cyclist access from the Brunel Mall multi-story car park into the station, and to purchase the historic Brunel-designed Goods Shed to secure the future of Stroud Valleys Artspace. After discussion at Committee, the final budget will be voted on at the Council meeting on 22nd February.